What Is the Treatment for Walking Pneumonia?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Mecomber
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 15 June 2019
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Walking pneumonia, an atypical pneumonia caused by a bacterial infection, is a milder but lingering type of pneumonia. Although it is less serious than the life-threatening type of pneumonia, walking pneumonia still is a discomforting and contagious lung infection. Walking pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia in older children and teenagers. The main treatment for walking pneumonia includes rest, fluids and antibiotics. This treatment usually can be done at home.

Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by many things, including bacteria, viruses, fungi or chemicals. Other potential causes are mycoplasmas, infectious agents and foreign materials. When someone has pneumonia, fluid and pus from the infection fill the tiny alveoli sacs in his or her lungs, inhibiting oxygen from reaching the blood. Without oxygen, cells cannot function properly and begin to break down. Pneumonia is therefore a serious, life-threatening disease.

Atypical pneumonia, or walking pneumonia, is so called because the lung infection persists even after other symptoms, such as fever and sore throat, dissipate. It is characterized by a dry cough that worsens at night and eventually produces discolored sputum that might be streaked with blood. Other symptoms can include wheezing or crackles in the chest, chills, a skin rash, muscle aches and diarrhea.


Walking pneumonia is usually caused by certain bacteria, including Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Legionella pneumophila. The disease is spread through the air via tiny droplets from the nose and throats of infected persons. Community-wide outbreaks generally occur in the late summer and autumn every four to eight years. Treatment for walking pneumonia almost always includes antibiotics such as erythromycin, azithromycin, clarithromycin or tetracyline.

For a mild case, typical treatment for walking pneumonia might include oral antibiotics, bed rest and a diet of clear fluids. Severe cases might require a hospital stay, during which intravenous antibiotics and oxygen are administered. Most patients respond very well to antibiotics for walking pneumonia. Patients are advised to complete the full regimen of antibiotic treatment for walking pneumonia, to prevent the infection from returning.

After the bacterial infection is under control through antibiotics, patients who have walking pneumonia are advised to continue to recuperate with bed rest and fluids. The symptoms will improve rapidly, but full recovery will take time. Fever can be controlled with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Cough expectorants and suppressants should be avoided unless directed by the physician. To prevent infecting others, patients are advised to avoid public places until the infection has healed.


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Post 4

@JackWhack – If you are on walking pneumonia antibiotics, you might get better without staying in bed. However, I doubt you get better as soon as someone who is both taking the drugs and getting plenty of rest.

People underestimate how important rest actually is when you are sick. I once got over a cold in just a few days because I sat around and relaxed all the time. If I had been on the move all the time, it would have taken me two weeks to get over it!

There is one other thing to consider, too. By going to work, you are exposing all your coworkers to your germs. Any time that you cough or sneeze, you are releasing germs into the air that can make someone else catch walking pneumonia.

Post 3

I know that rest is part of the treatment of walking pneumonia, but what if rest isn't an option? I have this sickness right now, but there is so much going on at work that I feel like I simply can't miss any days.

Will I eventually get better without the extra rest? Sick or not, I just need to be at work right now.

Post 2

The signs of walking pneumonia are so similar to those of the flu that it can be hard to tell that you have it. I caught the flu last winter, and even though I still felt sick over two weeks later, I just assumed I was having trouble shaking the flu.

I eventually decided that it was never going away, so I went to my doctor. I didn't think that they would be able to give me anything for it, but it turned out that I did have a bacterial infection in my lungs that could be treated with antibiotics.

It tried so hard to wait it out, because doctor visits and medication can be so expensive. All that I did was prolong my suffering. I could have been well so much sooner if I had gone earlier!

Post 1

I can see why cough expectorants shouldn't be used as a form of walking pneumonia treatment. Coughing up the phlegm doesn't cure the infection. That is up to the antibiotics to accomplish.

When you have something like viral bronchitis, you actually need to cough up the phlegm to help yourself get rid of the infection. With walking pneumonia, no matter how much you cough, you are still going to be infected if you don't take something to deal with the bacteria.

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